M's-Yankees Trade Talk Springs Anew -- Deal For Tino Now Matter Of `Getting Right Names'
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Not only did the Tino Martinez trade come back to life, but it appears to be imminent - and could occur today.
Sources in New York and Seattle agreed the gap was narrowing, with both parties saying yesterday that an agreement between the Yankees and Mariners is now a matter of "getting the right names."
The deal was revived yesterday about 12 hours after the Yankees nearly killed it. To reach its current status, Martinez and a major-league reliever, either Bobby Ayala or Jeff Nelson, and a minor-league pitcher - reportedly a quality prospect such as Scott Davison or Matt Wagner - for left-hander Sterling Hitchcock and third baseman Russ Davis, the Mariners actually rejected a New York bid for a second straight day.
"I turned them down again," Seattle General Manager Woody Woodward said. "These negotiations haven't been easy."
After the early no, with the Yankees looking to get both Ayala and Nelson among four players from the Mariners, New York General Manager Bob Watson called back with a three-Mariners-for-two-Yankees proposal the two sides were still discussing later in the day.
"We really seem to have set the outlines of any deal," Woodward said. "Watson and I will talk again Tuesday."
According to a New York source, the Yankees have been, "trying to play hardball with Seattle, but they really have nowhere else to go themselves."
Having talked with free agents Fred McGriff, who re-signed with Atlanta, and Mark Grace, the Yankees reportedly have also talked about dealing for Oakland first baseman Mark McGwire and Texas first baseman Will Clark. But both veterans carry heavy contracts, unlike Martinez, who would give New York a pull-power first baseman to replace Don Mattingly.
In Davis, the Mariners would get a solid defensive player with power to replace Mike Blowers, another former New York farmhand Davis is said to resemble in his play. Davis hit .276 in 40 games with the Yankees last season and .250 in 20 games with Class AAA Columbus. He hit .276 in 1994 with 30 doubles, 25 homers and 69 RBI in Class AAA.
Saturday, the two clubs had a three-for-three trade in place, what Mariner Manager Lou Piniella called, "a simple deal." It was Martinez, Nelson and a minor-league pitcher for Hitchcock, Davis and Jorge Posada, a minor-league catcher.
Late Sunday, the Yankees pulled Davis from the deal and asked for Martinez and Ayala. The Mariners turned them down the first time.
Piniella, who had talked with Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, said, "That wasn't a fair deal. I told George, `Just be fair with us.' We need a position player back in this trade if it's going to happen. The Yankees get to feeling that they should have the very best of a deal since they are taking on payroll and we're getting young players.
"But our guys have value here. We're not going to give them away."
Seattle figures to save about $3 million by trading Martinez, who is expected to get that much in contract settlement or salary arbitration. If Nelson is included, it could save $1 million more since he is also arbitration-eligible.
Watson called Woodward yesterday morning with the three-for-four deal; Davis was back in but the Yankees wanted three pitchers - from a team that is critically shy of pitching.
So the Mariner general manager said no again.
When Watson called back, the bid was two-for-three. The Yankees names were right. The issue was - and apparently still is - the Seattle minor-league pitcher to be included.
-- The Mariners lost four minor-league pitchers in the major-league portion of the annual Rule 5 draft yesterday, including well-regarded reliever Trey Witte, who came close to being protected on the 40-man roster after going 3-2 with a 1.73 ERA and 11 saves at Class AA Port City. Former Mariner farm director Jim Beattie, now Montreal's general manager, grabbed Witte for the Expos. The Mariners also lost Greg Kaegle, the right-hander who came from San Diego after the season as the player to be named later in the Andy Benes deal. Kaegle was taken by Randy Smith, who is the former Padre general manager now with the Tigers.
Mariners' farm hands George Glinatsis and Brian Doughty were selected by San Diego and Oakland, respectively. The Mariners also added four minor-league pitchers: Terric McFarlin, who comes from Class AAA Las Vegas and will go to Class AAA Tacoma; Jared Baker, who spent most of the season at Class A Rancho Cucamonga and will go to Class AA Port City; and Craig Hanson, who comes from Class AA Memphis and also goes to Port City.
-- Ken Griffey Jr. was to have surgery today to have the steel plate and six of seven screws removed from the left wrist he fractured on May 26. Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.
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